Wreckage found off Colwyn Bay confirmed as missing fishing boat Nicola Faith

The Nicola Faith (syndication)
The boat failed to return to port on January 27. Credit: Daily Post Wales

A sunken fishing boat found in the Colwyn Bay area last week is the missing fishing vessel Nicola Faith, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has confirmed.

Alan Minard, 20, Ross Ballantine, 39, and the boat's skipper Carl McGrath, 34, had been aboard the Nicola Faith when it failed to return to port in January.

The bodies of Carl McGrath, 34, Ross Ballantine, 39, and Alan Minard, 20, have been found since their fishing vessel the Nicola Faith was declared missing

The bodies of the three men have since been found.

Alan Minard's body was found on The Wirral in north west England on 30 March - more than two months after the vessel went missing.

The bodies of the two other crew members, Ross Ballantine, 39, and Carl McGrath, 34, were also recovered from the coastline around The Wirral and Blackpool several weeks ago.

The funeral of Carl McGrath was held in Conwy last week Credit: Daily Post Wales

Last week the MAIB found a vessel it deemed to be "of significant interest" and on Tuesday confirmed the find to be that of the missing fishing boat.

Andrew Moll, Chief Inspector of Marine Accident said attention will now turn to establishing why the boat sank.

Underwater footage shows the wreckage as it was discovered Credit: MAIB

"I understand how desperate the families of the crew are for answers, and now that the vessel has been found our investigation can focus on establishing why Nicola Faith sank. A large amount of evidence has already been collected and analysed, and a close look at the results of today’s dive survey should increase our understanding of the accident. Until this has been completed it not possible to say whether it will be necessary to recover the wreck for further testing.

"I would to thank North Wales Police for offering their assistance in identifying the vessel and also Seecat Charters, Natural Resource Wales and Welsh Fisheries who have provided valuable assistance to the investigation."

The men's families raised thousands to fund a private search and enlist the help of David Mearns, a deep-sea recovery expert who had been involved in the search for the downed plane carrying Cardiff-bound footballer Emiliano Sala.

On Tuesday Mr Mearns said he believed the wreckage to be that of the Nicola Faith, saying the ship's dimensions matched that of the missing vessel.

He also released sonar images of the sunken vessel that had been found by the MAIB.

Mr Mearns said, "The length and breadth of the wreck found by the MAIB match the known dimensions of the Nicola Faith."A platform mounted above the transom extended the original length of the boat to 12.1 metres."The wreck is lying on its bottom at a 30-degree angle to port."The 1300 kHz BLUEVIEW sonar revealed lines floating above the wheelhouse and fishing gear forward of the aft tower."A ridge of sand (in red) has built up at the stern because of tidal flow."The wreck is largely intact. The exposed starboard hull shows no damage."

Read more: